If you’re thinking of going on safari, this will without a doubt be the most active and interactive way to experience and appreciate the landscape and the animals. A mere two hours from the City of Cape Town, just outside the town of Touws River lies Aquila Private Game Reserve.
Home to a variety of wildlife including elephants, zebras, lions, eland, wildebeest, rhinos, giraffes and hippos. All of which can be seen in three manners: Land Rover Jeep, Horseback and Quadbike. Having done safari by Jeep, we weighed the sensibility of looking at wild yet competent of charging animals on horseback and on quadbike. We came to the conclusion that we were going on the quadbikes. As one experienced horse rider and one novice rider, horse back safari just seemed too risky for our statistics.
We arrived at Aquila and were welcomed to alcoholic and non alcoholic welcome drinks. It’s never too early for a glass of bubbles, even if it was 08h50 on a Friday morning. We were then directed to the breakfast area but decided to walk around a little and soak in the fresh air. Upon realising it was in our best interest to eat something substantial we entered the breakfast area. Our table was located outside overlooking the pool and the landscape we were about to ride through. Breakfast was fully loaded. Everything you could think of was available. Once again, vegetarians were well catered for, definitely no issues there. Once we were satisfied that we were adequately lined, we carried on walking around. I discovered the horses and began my usual routine of making friends with animals while my better half went around taking pictures. After a few squiff looks from the party who was going on horseback safari, we went to check out the quadbikes.
Being a bit country, I didn’t worry whether or not these machines were manual or automatic. My partner on the other hand looked slightly perturbed. Our ranger arrived to tell us it would be just the three of us. Needless to say, we were ecstatic. This meant we could literally do our own thing without having to consider anyone else in the group. Fantastic. It also meant individualised attention. Music to our ears 😉 All the rules and basics were explained. A test drive was had by all and off we went. Exciting. I must mention that just before we left we watched a video where a quadbike was chased by a rhino. No, not just another day in Africa it would seem and our idea of the quadbike being slightly safer than horseback… mmm maybe not 🤤
Trying not to think too much about it, we headed for the reserve gates. Warning! Please wear sensible shoes. Changing gear on a quadbike is not comfortable in soft sneakers. It’s like a horse standing on your foot every few minutes. In happier news, our first sighting was within the first 10 minutes.
Our first encounter was a dazzle of zebra. Short, stout, black and white with a touch of dusty beige – just too precious. They looked at you almost as if you were lost. Beautiful creatures. Our ranger pointed out that nestled among the dazzle of zebra were a rhino and her calf. From a distance, we admired these beauties. There are far too few of them left in this world. Once we had our pictures and our ranger had given us an informative introduction to these animals, we drove off into the opposite direction. 15 minutes later spotted the reserve’s only 2 elephants. Although the concept gentle giants is apparent, the ranger told us a few stories about these 2 bulls that was laden with of a sense of family responsibility, honour, humanity, personality and a hint of cheekiness. When they grew tired of our presence, they trekked off around the bend.
As we continued with our quadbike safari, we stumbled across a tower of giraffes. Smaller than the giraffes you expect to see, these guys have adapted to suit their environment. Due to the nature of the vegetation and the fact that there are no tall trees or bushes, these giraffes are smaller which enables them to reach the smaller trees and bushes without straining their hearts. We learnt so much from our ranger Branden. He was thorough and passionate about his work and the animals. Always a pleasure to see that level of commitment and enjoyment someone has in their work.
Once we had saddled up, we reached one of the corners of the reserve, where we had some sparking wine. Sitting down and enjoying that sparkling wine gives you just a small glimmer of the beauty, serenity and tranquility of Aquila. Blissful! Our pitstop concluded and we were off to pick up the Jeep and head to the lions den. As you can imagine, three quadbikes riding into a den of 7 lions is not the brightest plan hence the need for the Jeep. After all the admin, we were entering the lions’ camp. As fate would have it, they were chilling around several rocks and bushes within 10m of the gate.
All we could say was amazing. They were no more than 3 or 4m from us. They looked straight into our eyes and for a moment, we thought thank you Lord that we aren’t on quadbikes because we’re pretty sure these guys would mangia mangia all too easily. After admiring these magnificent animals and taking 100s of pictures we left them to enjoy their afternoon siesta.
On our way back to the lodge. Our ranger spotted the rhinos and zebras out and about. Without delay, our ranger made a detour and pulled up 3m from the rhinos and zebras. Wow, just wow 😮😍 We were incredibly blessed and honoured to be around them and enjoy them. So peaceful and majestic. It really doesn’t get any better than this. If you can’t appreciate and visually enjoy these animals, then there is something severely missing in your chemical makeup.
In utter awe, we left them in peace and quiet and made our way back to the lodge. Turning the corner we spotted a hippo and an eland. In amazement, we took our pics and appreciated the sheer magnitude of the hippo’s jaws and the eland’s size. Looking further along we spotted another hippo and her calf playing jovially in the dam. They looked like they were having an awesome time. We just can’t explain the sheer volume of animals we saw on this tour and with total and utter clarity, it was just unbelievable.
Back at the lodge, we thanked our ranger immensely. We couldn’t have asked for a better ranger. If it’s possible, ask for Branden. What a guy! We headed in for lunch and so concluded our quadbike safari tour. Do yourself a favour and try this tour. You won’t be disappointed. The opportunity to see our wildlife is so close it’s ridiculous.
*Please note we love animals and would not intentionally harm them or disclose any information that could harm them. Aquila Private Game Reserve actively promotes their wildlife including their rhinos on social media.